This teaching is an interesting one as it appears bang in the middle of the teaching about the woman at the well. It is interesting because Jesus shows us here that no one person in God’s Kingdom can, should or does work alone. We are part of a team, Team Jesus, if you will. And as a team we all work together for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.
The Coaching Team
OK. So if there is a team Jesus, there has to be a coach. Someone who guides, lays down the game plan, sets the strategy and tactics of the game and then makes the play happen. He encourages, strengthens, disciplines when needed and all in all improves our ability to play the game.
Jesus is the coach, the Holy Spirit is the skills and tactical coach and we who are given responsibility to teach God’s people are coaching assistants. And the game we are playing is the game of life. Not just life in this world, but this game leads us to salvation and eternal life in Jesus Christ.
Unlike many of the Olympic sports, which are individual events, Team Jesus is a team game. These are not my words but are what is shown in this section of scripture. John wrote, “For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” (Verse 37-38)
So you see that there are those who begin a work and others who take that work onto another stage. It’s sort of like a relay team. As the race progresses the baton is passed from one to the next to move the team along to a conclusion and completion of the event.
All who are in Jesus Christ are members of Team Jesus and we each have our own special role to play. Jesus showed in the verse quoted above that ‘One sows and another reaps.’ In the case of the situation they were in then, the woman at the well sowed the seed of faith with the townspeople and they then came to Jesus and the disciples who were going to reap the benefit of her sowing.
Paul said a similar thing regarding this shared work within Team Jesus. He said in 1 Corinthians 3:6-9,
6 I planted, Apol’los watered, but God gave the growth.
7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
8 He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor.
9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
Paul, in his ministry as an Apostle, went around planting the seeds and establishing churches. Apollos was a powerful teacher of the gospel and he took over the task of teaching the new churches the truth of the gospel, explining the prophecies and truths from the old testament writings. We saw also that Paul travelled frequently with a team of others, just as Jesus had the twelve with him, so that the labor could be shared.
Playing the Game
So what is my point in all of this? We must understand that in Christ, no man is an island. Similarly no man has the totality of the ministry able to build the whole church.
Just as the coach of a team positions his players to take the best advantage of their inherent skills and abilities, whether in defence or attack, so too in the Lord He places His people where they will do the very best for Team Jesus and to lead God’s people to the Kingdom of God.
And Jesus has set up the church in such a way that the ministries of the church support this Team Jesus approach. We see this in Ephesians 4:11-13.
11 And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
Are all apostles? Are all evangelists? Are all teachers? No. It is just as important for a teacher to have someone to teach! The person who comes along week after week to sit in the pews and listen to the words of the teachers are just as important as those who stand up the front giving the ministry. In Christ we are all equal and all members of Team Jesus for the purpose of building up the church to maturity.
Let me give a personal example. My ministry is to teach and to speak to the people of God. But I would make a lousy pastor because that is not where my strength lies. However others in the church I attend have very strong pastoral ministries and can care for the flock in ways that I cannot. Then others have prophetic ministries and some are strong in evangelism and so on.
These gifts that enable Team Jesus to operate as it does, for the benefit of the church, are not taken by the individual. They are given and apportioned to each person by the Holy Spirit according to the will of God. Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 12:11 saying, “All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” What is important here is that within Team Jesus it is the coach (Jesus) who is directing all things and the assistant coach (the Holy Spirit) who establishes the skills to build the team into a unit that will win the game by developing a mature church able to stand against satanic opposition and receive eternal life.
(Image sourced from stock.xchng taken by Gabriella Fabbri)